3D Printing my daughters Unicorn drawing

More Innovation Lab goodness:

My daughter Eva (age 6) drew a picture of a Unicorn, and I decided to make a model of it, using 3D printing. This is “Gigi” the Unicorn:

00_000 Eva Unicorn 00 original

A quick bit of Photoshoppery to turn the mobile phone image into a line drawing. Tip number one – a good scan makes less work to tidy it up:

00_001 Photoshop tidy up Eva Unicorn 01

Photoshoppery part 2:

00_002 Photoshop tidy up Eva Unicorn 02

Photoshoppery part 3:

00_003 Photoshop tidy up Eva Unicorn 03

Import the cleaned-up line drawing into SolidWorks, and use the spline drawing tool to follow the imported line-drawing. This is a simple extruded shape without too much time spent on making it a real ‘Unicorn’ shape, because a) my daughter didn’t draw a three dimensional object, so I can’t really follow her intent, and b) I didn’t want to spend a month killing myself with surfaces.

00_100 Solidworks screenshot 1

SolidWorks extrusion:

00_101 Solidworks screenshot 2

Same process more-or-less for the other Unicorn features. A bit of mucking around to make it stand up on level ground (adjusting the tail) and the sweep-helix horn wouldn’t work, so I made it a lot simpler. The final step was to scale the model so it’s approximately 60mm tall.

00_102 Solidworks screenshot 3

Here’s a 3D pdf of the CAD file (open it in Adobe PDF Reader): Unicorn CAD file 3D PDF

Then make an STL file of the model (hard move this, ‘Save As…STL’), so it can import into the 3D printer software:

00_102 STL

Import the STL file into the UP! 3D printer software, which is pretty straightforward to set up:

00_103 Up screenshot positioning on platform

The software tells you how much ABS the model will use, and how long it will take. It also tells you how many layers will make up the print, because the Unicorn is on it’s side, it is only 27 layers.

00_104 Software plastic and duration

Here is it being printed. You’ll notice that here is one being printed well, alongside one that lifted off the build platform so I had to throw it away half done, and the resulting extruded plastic mess that is going nowhere. Various issues led me to make four prints in the end:

00_105 printing

The finished Unicorn, compared with the STL to-print image:

00_107 Finished with support material removed

The poor half-done one that lifted off the build platform, that unfortunately had to be sent to the plastic Findus lasagne factory:

00_108 failed one

Two good prints, left showing the model as it comes off the machine with support material, right with support material removed (with pliers and swearing):

00_110 off printer and cleaned up

Completed GiGi the Unicorn, approximately 60mm high. You can see the resolution of the extruded plastic, but this is more a factor of fine details on a small part:

00_111 Finished with support material removed

Here’s a video of the 3D printer in action:

and finally, here is Eva (on my lap) describing to her Mum what we were doing:


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